“Get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes; you will be doing a lot of walking!” is a tip most Candidate Attorneys hear when they begin their articles. This advice rings true for Conveyancers, Deeds Office Clerks, Candidate Attorneys, and also the conveyancing paralegals, especially during recent weeks!
One should also have a mask, sanitiser and a phone loaded with data and airtime (not to mention fully charged) to start one’s day.
Being advised that the Deeds Office would open as South Africa moved to Alert Level 3 was indeed great news and everybody was excited to be able to get the wheels turning again. Unfortunately, but understandably, the process of re-opening was slow and since then the Deeds Office has had numerous Covid-19 contacts and had to close for decontamination a number of times. They have strict protocols and have to answer to a Provincial Steering Committee. The strict protocols, together with the limited staff capacity, make for slow progress at the Deeds Office. However, our calls have been heard and the Deeds Office has made arrangements to staff an office in Mowbray in an attempt to expedite the examination of the large backlog of Deeds.
Our conveyancer who attends at the Deeds Office every morning on behalf of the company has certainly had her fitness levels (and patience) tested over the past weeks. Even arriving one morning just to confirm that the office was DEFINITELY closed after being advised that it was so. Her photography skills have improved as she has had the task of sending the conveyancing department photos of the many notices that have been posted on the closed doors of the Deeds Office. However, her resilience and ability to adapt and communicate with the office has made a difficult situation easier to handle.
The screening and sanitising procedures at the Deeds Office have ensured that all conveyancers are some of the most thoroughly sanitised and screened citizens. Only conveyancers are currently permitted in the building, which often means that Deeds office Clerks and Candidate Attorneys are outside of the building and communicate telephonically; arranging for documents to be exchanged or delivered to the conveyancer. There have been frustrating, but at times amusing scenes of car boots becoming sorting tables in the street outside and many law office staff standing on the street in a telephonic conversation with their offices and conveyancers in the building.
Our Deeds Office Clerk, Fareed, has been attending at the Deeds Office for 41 years and said that he has never experienced anything even close to Lockdown/Covid-19. However, he did recall a
time in the 1980s where the Deeds were taking three to four months to come up for registration! He couldn’t recall the reason.
Fareed also mentioned that its tough sorting deeds in the boot of one’s car, one needs to really concentrate and be very careful of not mixing any batches up! That done, an additional challenge has been the inclement weather, so he has taken to securely filing the deeds in his raincoat! as he dashes across the road to meet our conveyancer.
Young law students would never have expected to find these scenes, let alone be part of them – those walking shoes were money well spent! The lifts in the Deeds Office are somewhat fragile and currently limiting the capacity to 2 people, so many flights of stairs are also climbed to meet the timelines. It’s all in a morning’s work – teamwork!
Questions that we are often asked are the following:
- Is the Deeds Office open/how are they operating?
- Turnaround times for lodgement?
- When will my transaction register?
The Deeds Office is most definitely open! We have been advised by the Deeds Office that the current turnaround times in the Cape Town Deeds Office are as such:
- 90% of deeds lodged on the 18 and 19 June 2020 were sorted to be allocated to level 1 examiners on 20 July 2020.
- 32% of deeds lodged on the 15 June 2020 were sorted and to be allocated to senior levels (level 2 & 3) on 20 July 2020.
To understand this, you will need to know the process once the deeds have been lodged at the Deeds Office.
With regards to the examination process:
There are 3 levels of examination in the deeds office – junior (level 1) and senior (levels 2 & 3). Once the matter has reached level 2, it normally takes a week to “appear for registration” which is when conveyancers can hand the matter in to register the following day.
To date, roughly 12 847 (35%) of the 35 937 deeds lodged have registered which unfortunately leaves a rather large backlog to still deal with.
We often need to stay on top of rates clearance certificates (only valid for 60 days) that have expired due to the length of time for examination or addendums for an early occupation to try and accommodate purchasers that need to move into their soon-to-be-property.
In closing, this quote of Jimmy Dean sums up the Bisset’s Team’s approach to dealing with conveyancing transactions during Lockdown/COVID.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean
We are, as always, adapting to the changes and procedures presented to us and endeavoring to streamline and expedite the smooth passage of each and every one of our transactions in the Deeds Office. We assure you that despite the challenges our team is at the ready, changing tack and adjusting the sails as each situation arises.
This is a developing story; and we shall definitely keep you posted!
The Conveyancing Department
CONTACT DETAILS FOR OUR CONVEYANCERS:
|ROBERT FERRANDI – Partner
|CARL BURGER – Partner
|Direct Line: 021-441 9988
|Direct Line: 021-441 9999
|Mobile: 082 333 2703
|Mobile: 082 333 2706
|MICHELLE VAN WYK – Partner
|RONEL ELS – Partner
|Direct Line: 021-441 9990
|Direct Line: 021-441 9970
|Mobile: 082 853 0463
|Mobile: 082 947 0528
|LEANNE WILLIAMS – Associate
|Direct Line: 021-441 9840
|Mobile: 083 655 3685